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Ahamad Mukhtar Jaff, 'The Issue of Conscience'

Ahamad Mukhtar Jaff, 'The Issue of Conscience'

(excerpt; translated from the Kurdish by Danal Rashid)


[...] After I relaxed for a while at a teashop, I went looking for a rented room to inhabit. I found a room with a small rent. In the night, I pondered how would I live here? I remembered that I have some poor writing. I would go to the municipality palace and write appeals for people. Then I was afraid they wouldn’t allow me. The next morning, filled with anxiety, I went to the palace. It was crowded like an ant colony with impoverished villagers.

I noticed that there were a number of appeal writers. Their situation didn’t seem bad as there were crowds around them. I didn’t hesitate; I bought some paper and ink in a nearby shop. I placed my workshop in a corner of the palace near to the gate. In that day, my only work was an appeal which God turned to evil on me. I waited to see the result of my first appeal, waited while the mayor read it.

Still it is unsolved; because of my terrible handwriting or the illiteracy of the mayor? Then, he clearly had read the appeal because he saw that instead of writing, “My sheep are counted once this year and they put tax on them twice. I’m unfairly treated,” I wrote, “I have two flocks of sheep which are counted only once. Please, look upon this unfairness.” The head of the office angrily said: “Hey, man, where are you from?”Issue

“Sir, I’m from this town in origin”

“What does this deception mean? Since you don’t know how to write, why did you put yourself in the place of an appeal writer? Look at this terrible hand writing and this nonsense appeal! Instead of appealing against the unfair case of this poor man, you made it worse for him. I will send you to police right now and you will be under arrest. You will be judged with tribal laws so that no one will dare do this again.” As he mentioned tribal law, I was surprised since those laws are used only for conflicts between two tribes including murderers and victims in which it is deemed unsolvable by the court. Or on some occasions, it is used for cases where judiciary laws hurt the regional interest of that place.

I was scared and thought that my situation might be dire. With a fearful voice I asked: “Sir I don’t belong to a tribe and I am not a tribal leader. I’m a poor man, working day and night for my survival. What do I have to do with tribal laws?

He shouted to the room, “Who is over there?”

Suddenly some men emerged. He shouted over to them, “Beat him as much as you can afford!”

I received many smacks and punches on my face, I was shattered with kicks. Then, he handed me the report about my appeal. I observed that my terrible handwriting was much better than his dirty handwriting. I contemplated and said, “God, you are the Omnipotent! Some people are put under trial for terrible handwriting, and others live a happy life despite it.”

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